Silverton, located on the famed San Juan Skyway, is the epicenter of Colorado extreme outdoor adventures. Whether you’re in town to run an ultramarathon (Silverton is the jumping off point for the Hardrock 100 and Dirty 30), ski some of the steepest slopes Colorado has to offer (definitely consider visiting Silverton Mountain), or venture out into the depths of the Weminuche Wilderness (one of Colorado’s most remote areas to backpack), it’s inevitable that you’ll be looking for the perfect place to stay. The Grand Imperial Hotel is guaranteed to be exactly what you’re looking for.
Located on what was known as the Thomson Block, the Grand Hotel – as it was initially named – was commissioned in 1882 by W.S. Thomson, a perfume importer and mill owner from New York City. Completed in 1883, the massive granite structure became renowned for being the largest single standing structure south of Denver.
The entire second floor was the base of operations for the Town of Silverton and San Juan County. It served as the official town and county seat. The building’s first floor was the home to the local post office, town bank, Bureau of Mines, general store, doctor’s office, and Silverton Standard Newspaper.
With mine production waning in the early 1900s, the Town of Silverton changed and so did the Grand Hotel. The Victorian era building was sold, and it was renamed the Imperial Hotel until it changed hands once again in 1951. After an extensive restoration, the hotel reopened its doors to the public under its current namesake, the Grand Imperial Hotel.
By 2015, the Grand Lady of the San Juan’s, now over 135 years in age, had fallen into disrepair and longed for someone to take on the monumental task of not only preserving, but restoring the gilded granite edifice to its former eminence. The Harper family, owners of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, purchased the Hotel in the spring of 2015. Under the guidance of the Harper’s, an extensive restoration project began. Hotel president and eldest son, Jim Harper, led the restoration effort, which was recently completed.
“Our family is committed to the Grand Imperial and the Town of Silverton,” said Harper. Upon its opening in 1883, the hotel was known as “the social center of the San Juans – we want to see the Grand, grand again.”
Today, the Grand Imperial Hotel is an architectural marvel. It is the perfect place to stay and/or saddle up to the bar for a drink. We thoroughly enjoyed a recent stay at the Grand Imperial while we were in town for a friend’s wedding. Though we were only able to crash there for a couple of nights, we could feel the historic, vibrant stories the walls had witnessed over the years. We slept in one of the second floor queen rooms and lamented that we weren’t able to stay longer. Then again, there’s always next time. And we’ll be certain to return!
Have you experienced the grandeur of the Grand Imperial Hotel? Please let us know how your trip went by telling your story in our comment section below.